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'The Hunger Games' 101: What You Need to Know

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Mar 07, 2012 | 5:57am EST
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the hunger gamesWith only a week and a half left before its release, The Hunger Games fever is officially off the scale. The movie is tracking to explode the box office next weekend, which should subsequently solidify Hunger Games position in cinematic pop culture history. Question is, are you prepared for to be part of the pop culture phenomenon?

Truth be told, the crowds of people excited for Hunger Games have a leg up on others experiencing the story for the first time. There's a lot of crazy details from the book that the movie may be throwing around liberally, aspects of the intricate world author Suzanne Collins created, that may lost on a newbie. So as a way to help you, the fresh-faced fan ready to dive into your first round of The Hunger Games, or even the casual reader, who picked up HG on a whim and never thought to drag it out of the memory banks before the movie hits theaters, we've created a list of need-to-know vocab words to help guide you on your quest toward Hunger Games fluency. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Tributes: Residents of the districts of Panem who are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games. Every year, 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 are randomly chosen in a lottery drawing. Each of the 12 districts must give 2 tributes: a boy and a girl. Willing participants are allowed to volunteer since it's seen as an honor in some of the districts.

Districts: Panem is located in what was once North America with the Capitol directly in the center. The 13 districts surround it, all under the Capitol's control. Each district has a distinct industry that it's known for (i.e. District 12 is a coal-mining community whereas District 11 is centered around agriculture). There are a total of 12 active districts since the Capitol destroyed the 13th District during the rebellion.

The Hunger Games: An event created by the Capitol as a reminder of the consequences of rebelling against them. The chosen tributes to participate in the Games must fight to the death in an arena until only one remains. All residents of Panem are forced to watch the Games on TV -- even the family and friends of the tributes who are participating.

The Arena: The battlefield where the Hunger Games takes place. The Capitol designs a new arena every year, with varying climates and landscapes, so that way the tributes will never know what dangers to suspect.

ALTDistrict Escort: Their main duty is to escort tributes of their assigned district to the Capitol and teach them how to behave properly up until the Games commence. If the escort's tribute is a victor in the Games, then the escort's job includes accompanying the winner from place to place during their Victory Tour. This could also result in a promotion to a higher ranking district for the next year's Games.

The Reaping: The annual event where each District selects their  tributes for the year's Hunger Games. Each district's escort randomly draws two names from two different glass bowls: one for a girl tribute and one for a boy tribute. Whoever's name is picked automatically becomes the new tribute for the Hunger Games, unless someone nominates themselves to go in their stead. To qualify for The Reaping, residents must be between the ages of 12-18. Children who are twelve only put their name in once, however, as the years go by, the reaping becomes cumulative (i.e. when a possible tribute turns 13, their name is added two more times). By the time each child turns 18, their name will have to be put in 28 times, though it could be even more than that depending on how much Tesserae their family has taken.

Tesserae: An option available to all children who are eligible to participate in the Hunger Games. If their family is starving, they can add their name into the reaping draw more times in exchange for tesserae. Each tesserae is worth a year's supply of grain and oil for one person. So the more times you enter your name into the reaping, the more food your family will receive that year. However, it's risky to do since it also increases your chances of being selected for the Games. This is a tough decision to make among the poorer districts, such as District 12, whose continued existence depend on tesserae.

District 13: Rebelled against the Capitol for its tyrannous form of government. Obliterated during the Dark Days as a reminder to everyone in Panem to never underestimate the power and strength the Capitol holds.

Jabberyjay: Birds genetically engineered by the Capitol to spy on District 13 during the rebellion. They were made to overhear private conversations and bring the intel back to Capitol. The Jabberjays keen senses served as a war tactic, until the rebels caught on and started feeding the birds false information.

The Mockingjay: A hybrid bird whose lineage stems from that of the Jabberyjay. They are created when a Mockingbird mates with a Jabberyjay. After a few generations, they no longer possess the ability to speak, however, they are known for repeating songs and melodies that they hear.

The Mockingjay Pin: Katniss' tribute token for the Games given to her by her friend, Madge Undersee. The pin is a subtle way to mock the Capitol since Mockingjays were created as a result of the their unsuccessful experiment with Jabberjays. It comes a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol as the series progresses.

ALTSponsors: People from the Capitol who contribute money to help give their favored tributes the supplies they need while participating in the Games. For example, if a tribute was dying of hunger, sponsors could send bread to that person, depending upon how much they want to see him/her succeed. The practice of sponsors makes a tribute's popularity the difference between life or death.

Stylist Team: Each tribute is given a group of stylists to help portray their image before the Games begin. Their main purpose is to make each tribute look as likable/memorable as possible in order to help gain sponsors.

Tracker Jackers: Highly dangerous, genetically-altered wasps created by the Capitol that were made to kill and destroy anything in their path. If their nests are disturbed, these mutants have the ability to track down the culprit and kill them. Their venom causes hallucinations that can drive a person to madness. While it is possible to live after being stung, the more stings a contestant receives, the worse their chances of survival.

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